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On Gardening: Superbena Sparkling Verbenas offer unusual appeal

Norman Winter, Tribune News Service on

Published in Gardening News

Sparkling Rose may sound like an adult libation at your favorite Italian restaurant, but in the gardening world it is a Superbena or should I say a Super Verbena. Some in the green industry might consider it a novelty bedding plant, mainly due to its coloration. Personally, I don’t like the adjective novelty, mostly because of the dictionary’s No. 2 definition, which is small and inexpensive.

Superbena Sparkling Rose is a Top Performer award winner. It reaches 12 inches tall with a spread of up to 30 inches. It is a perennial in zones 8a and warmer and like all of the other Superbenas, it will make you look like the Green Thumb Award Winner if you cut back to keep those new shoots developing throughout the growing season.

When I was with Mississippi State University, we would have thousands attend the Fall Flower and Garden Fest in October and we regularly had verbenas in a glorious state of full bloom by cutting them back six weeks before the event.

The Garden Guy has been reading the greenhouse producers description of the blooms including the tags from Proven Winners. If I may be so bold, I think everyone short-changed this verbena. The center of the flower is dark rose, maybe even a lipstick color, and then pink shades spreading outward. Your first thought may be what would I do with that. The basic answer is anything you want to!

At the Young Plant Farms Annual Garden Tour in Auburn, Alabama, I photographed a beautiful Proven Winners recipe called Missy. It featured Superbenas Sparkling Rose and Whiteout verbenas, with Superbells Honeyberry calibrachoa.

Son James, created a dazzling planter that featured Superbena Sparkling Rose, Superbells Backcurrant Punch, Supertunia Mini Vista Indigo petunia and Unplugged So Blue salvia. But then with one of his clients who loves flowers to the max, he used it like a special surprise.

In my photo I saw zinnias, Melinis Savannah Ruby Grass, Compact SunPatiens, Luscious lantanas and then there were those blooms of Superbena Sparkling Rose verbenas that took you by surprise. Isn’t that what we all want, our garden to be one of participation, visitors have to walk it, to see and appreciate?


It was Libby however who triggered me to write this column. Libby Breitenbaugh has a Facebook page I follow called Libby’s Backyard Wildlife Habitat. Her yard has several habitat certifications and her photos prove she is most accomplished. As you might guess she posted photos of the Eastern Black Swallowtail feeding on the nectar from Superbena Sparkling Rose. Way to go, Libby!

Superbena Sparking Rose verbena is one of two in the sparkling group. The other is Sparkling Amethyst. This one has won even more awards, including Perfect Score at LSU Hammond Research Station and Iowa State University, and Director’s Select at Penn State. My description would be dark amethyst in the center spreading out to white and light amethyst.

Proven Winners has one more drop dead gorgeous Superbena that could be included in this group. You may want to consider it too. It is called Superbena Peachy Keen. Its tag says Orange and Apricot shades to Cream. I would say BINGO on that one. The point to remember as you enter your planting season is that you have the opportunity to make your garden sparkling, with these bi-colored Superbenas. Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds will love them too!


(Norman Winter, horticulturist, garden speaker and author of “Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South” and “Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden.” Follow him on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.)

(NOTE TO EDITORS: Norman Winter receives complimentary plants to review from the companies he covers.)

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